Digital Access and Literacy for All

Digital literacy and digital access are two important themes in Ribble’s (2017) Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. The Obama administration established a website dedicated to offering resources to enhance the digital literacy of all citizens. The website is a collaboration by many US agencies including Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Department of Labor, and others. The site offers resources to educators, job seekers, students, and interested community members. Visitors are also encouraged to offer their own content to enhance the site.

Most interesting to me was the wide variety or materials available to users. Teachers who are looking for resources to teach digital literacy in their classrooms will find prepared lessons provided by other educators, links to videos online, or interactive lessons that are ready to use. If someone unfamiliar with computers wants to learn basic computer skills, he can find easy-to-use tutorials created by highly reputable sources. If a job seeker is looking for resources to enhance her web-based skills, she can find tutorials, websites, and more on

As an adult educator, I would utilize the educator resources available on There is a link to a great article published by Minnesota State that describes how to use social networking for career advancement. I would ask my students to review the article and establish a proactive plan for developing their professional profile in the social networking arena.


Ribble, M. (2017). Nine elements: Nine Themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from:   


Use Your Manners!

Digital etiquette is one of Ribble’s (2017) nine themes of digital citizenship and is a common concern for many educators at all levels. The Pew Research Center (2014) found that 73% of adults have witnessed some form of online harassment. But, digital etiquette extends well beyond avoiding harassment. It includes learning appropriate standards of behavior for interacting online.

I came across this great idea on the Colonial Williamsburg website! The site refers to the 110 rules for civility that George Washington wrote as a young man. He describes the behaviors people should enact when in the company of others. The Colonial Williamsburg site offers educators an idea for a lesson that adapts the etiquette ideas of George Washington into the modern digital age.

As an adult educator, I would ask my students to study the 110 rules for civility proposed by George Washington. In a small group discussion, students would identify two or three rules that could apply in our society today. Then I would ask students to find examples of the rule being broken in the online environment and offer a suggestion for how to rectify the infringement.


Duggan, M. (2014). Online harassment. Retrieved from:

Ribble, M. (2017). Nine elements: Nine Themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from:  

Get Creative with OER Commons

Douglas Rushkoff (as cited in Richardson, 2010) uses a phrase “society of authorship” to describe the current knowledge sharing environment that we find ourselves in with the dominance of the Internet. Everyone with internet access has the ability to contribute content to the world and increase the knowledge share. In that spirit, open educational resources (OER) offer anyone the opportunity to share and to access knowledge.

OER Commons is a website designed to host open educational resources contributed by participants. It is essentially a digital library of lessons, simulations, worksheets, activities, textbooks, articles, and much more. Anyone can search the offerings and use the resources without requesting permission or paying a fee. There are more than 50,000 materials on the site and they range from kindergarten to university level. Educators can build their own lessons using OER materials or curate their own collections. If time is limited, educators can select collections of materials that have already been curated for easy use. Finally, educators are encouraged to contribute their own materials to OER Commons to build the knowledge collection on the site.


Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 

Connect with Students

Adobe Connect is a program that many know for its web conferencing abilities. However, it can be much more powerful than just for video conference calls. In an education setting, you can conduct a webinar from just about any device you have at hand and get as creative as you choose. With an Adobe Connect account, you can create your own virtual room that you design with your own color schemes, branding, and layout. Once you’ve established your room, you can invite attendees (students) to watch a live webinar with video, audio, and screen sharing. Students can participate and engage with the instructor and the content through interactive tools such as a raise-hand feature, poll responses, chat windows, and Q&A windows. Additional apps can be integrated to extend the capabilities of your Adobe Connect room. Educators can record the webcast and edit before publishing. Recorded webinars can even be archived for later use.

In my practice as an adult educator, I would use the Adobe Connect program to hold synchronous discussions with students in an online course. As Dr. Michael Simonson (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009) says, distance education will continue to grow especially in the online environments. To be prepared to actively engage with students and retain the important social interaction elements of learning, I will use Adobe Connect to hold synchronous discussions with students.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Distance education: The next generation. Baltimore, MD: Author. 

Start Your Venture with GoVentureWorld

GoVentureWorld is a massively multiplayer online role-laying game (MMORPG) in which players run a business in competition and collaboration with other players. Players establish a business as a manufacturer or retailer and run all facets of the business through the game including startup, marketing, legal issues, finances, interactions, personnel, or anything a business leader would experience in an authentic situation. The game is accessible on most devices so players can check on their businesses and monitor progress anytime. The ability to monitor progress and receive feedback are critical to the motivation to continue in the game (Willis, 2014) In fact, the game continues (i.e. the business keeps running) even when the player is logged out. A leaderboard tallies the successes of the players providing encouragement to continue. According to Tom Chatfield (TED, 2010), gamers will persist in play when they encounter reward at the right point of uncertainty. GoVentureWorld seems to hit the right spot of uncertainty in players as millions continue to enjoy the game for learning and entertainment. The designers of GoVentureWorld believe the game is so beneficial to players that they should include it in their resumes when job seeking as a testament to their business acumen.

GoVentureWorld would be a dynamic addition to any business curriculum. Students could start a business in the game and continue to improve their business skills as they progress through coursework in the class. The business could even be created and ultimately used as a portfolio item at the end of a business program to demonstrate how well the student understood  and applied the concepts taught during the program.


TED (Producer). (2010). Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain [Video file].  Retrieved from:

Willis, J. (2011, April 14) A neurologist makes a case for the video game model as a learning tool [Blog post]. Retrieved from:

Historical Fun!

Age of Empires is a reality-based game of strategy set in historical periods. Games are organized by historical periods and regions such as the Stone Age, or Ancient Empires, or Colonization of North America. The game scenarios provide historical data about the relevant geography, economy, politics, culture, and military so players can make informed decisions during play. The site also offers videos and fact sheets describing additional information about the civilization or the scenario in the game. The objective of the game is to lead a civilization through various stages. As the leader, the player must make critical decisions that will advance progress for the people by keeping them safe, feeding them, and providing shelter. Poor decisions result in the decline of the civilization. A stats board tracks the success of players. Finally, Age of Empires provides community forums for players to interact about game play. Steinkuehler and Duncan (2008) found that game forums provide useful avenues for social knowledge construction in which players use evidence to support arguments, persistence to prove a point, and create relationships around shared goals. All of these skills are advantageous to learning!

Age of Empires

Age of Empires could be a fun learning opportunity for students in a history class. If the students are studying the military campaigns of the Romans, they could engage in play on Age of Empires to experience the complex factors that contribute to military efforts in times of war.


Steinkuehler, C. & Duncan, S. (2008) Scientific habits of mind in virtual worlds. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 17(6), 530-543.

Stay Organized with My Study Life

My Study Life is the brain child of a frustrated university student in the UK who needed a way to stay organized. The functional app Jamie Clark created is an organizational tool designed to help students keep track of their hectic class schedules, due dates for assignments, and more. Students enter their class schedules and tasks to be completed into the free app and it will automatically integrate with the calendar in the app and any personal calendars specified.  The app will push reminders to students about upcoming due dates and classes. One of the unique features that differentiates this app from others is the ability to easily visualize increments of a project. Instead of having a single due date for the entire project, the app can break the larger project in to smaller pieces and assign due dates for each part of the project to help the students stay on track. The app also syncs with multiple devices and can be accessed without web access.

As adult educator, I would ask my students to sign up for the My Study Life app as a way to keep themselves organized for the course. This could limit the number of absences and missed assignments.

Learning with Memrise

Memrise is a fee-based language-learning app designed with three fundamental principles in mind: neuroscience, community, and fun. The content of the app is divided into study areas (called courses) including history, geography, art, literature, math, science and more. Learners choose a course and the content is delivered in a game-like format for learning, practice, and assessment. Learners can also create groups around common courses.  The course also offers video and audio demonstrations of language so students can hear pronunciations.

Mobile learning is effective for learners of any age and educational level (Park, 2011) and has been proven to improve academic achievement (Elfeky & Masadeh, 2016). I would recommend Memrise to my adult learners as a way to explore additional course content and rehearse critical facts or concepts we covered in class. I would establish a group around topics we are studying in class so that all students can be working on the same content at the same time. For example, we are studying the English terms for physical sciences. All students in the class would sign up for the science lesson I indicate and can study the terms using the Memrise app on their own time. 


Elfeky, A. I. M., & Masadeh, T. S. Y. (2016). The Effect of Mobile Learning on Students’ Achievement and Conversational Skills. International Journal of Higher Education5(3), 20–31. 

Park, Y. (2011). A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(2), 78–102. 

Social (Science) Networking with LabRoots

With more than 2.8 million users, LabRoots is one of the most popular social networking websites specific to science. Think of it as Reddit for scientists. Users share content, view scientific news, and form connections around topics of interest. The beautifully designed interface makes it an attractive option for keeping up with the latest in microbiology, immunology, genetics, neuroscience. LabRoots also offers a gaming component with their Leaderboard. Users earn points when interacting with content or others on the site and a leaderboard keeps users competing for status. LabRoots also offers webinars related to scientific topics.

One of the principles of the connectivist learning theory is that knowledge rests in a diversity of opinions and is gained through a process of connecting information (Siemens, 2005).  Applying the connectivist approach to the adult learning context, I could envision students in the sciences using LabRoots as a way of connecting with classmates around course topics. If I assign a topic such as chromosomal mutations, students could use LabRoots to search for relevant information and collaborate with one another via comments features on the site. Alternatively, students could contribute content to the LabRoots site as a class assessment.

References Siemens, G. (2005).  Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning. Retrieved from:

View My Video on Vimeo!

Vimeo is a popular video hosting site used by more than 80 million people for education, business, and various social media purposes. The basic premise of Vimeo is its video player to which anyone can upload videos and embed them anywhere (websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It is user-friendly and simple to use by anyone who can create a video, so it appeals to amateur cinematographers, educators, advanced filmmakers, business marketing professional, or anyone who wants to publish funny animal videos. When the videos are published through Vimeo, they are automatically ADA compliant and accessible on any device regardless of bandwidth or platform.

The owner of the video can establish privacy settings and invite others to view, edit, or contribute to the video. Yes! You read it right! Others can edit or comment right in the video itself. Even better, all versions are available to revert to in case a contributor gets too creative with their edits.  The video owner can also include interactive elements in the video, such as a call to action box that prompts the viewer to respond to questions.

Vimeo also offers data analytics via a dashboard for the video owner. The dashboard integrates data from any site on which the video is located and includes data related to number of views, engagement length, and types of access. Vimeo is not a free service, but there are special pricing plans for educators and students.

Will Richardson (2010) says, “the most sweeping change in our relationship with the Internet may not be as much the ability to publish as it is the ability to share, connect, and create with many, many others of like minds and interests” (p. 85). Vimeo is more than just a video sharing platform because it allows video owners to interact within the video content and collaborate to iterate on the original creation. In the higher education setting, I would recommend instructors use Vimeo for a collaborative video project around a content area topic. For example, in a political science class, students could debate a current political topic and upload videos of different perspectives on the topic. Then they could collaboratively edit the video segments to show both sides of the argument in a single video that the instructor could evaluate. 


Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.